Friday, April 19, 2013

Rely on the strength of love during hard times

From today's Briefing:

I’ve had one of those crummy weeks, the kind that might convince a person to grump about like Eeyore, muttering, “Woe is me.”
The minivan required four new tires.
I’m walking around on an achy right leg, cause yet undetermined.
And I came home from work Monday to find water dripping from the kitchen ceiling. We apparently need a new evaporator for the air conditioner.
By the time I reached Katie’s dance studio Monday evening, I was droopy, dejected and on the verge of despair. I unraveled my gloomy tales in front of a small audience of sympathetic friends, all the while imagining how pathetic I must sound, complaining about minor troubles just hours after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Did my friends chide me for moping? Nope. They listened. They hugged me. They never once diminished my sadness. They surrounded me with love.
Love. That’s almost always the answer, I learn again and again.
Incredibly, our love is limitless.
Social media is overflowing this week with stories of unabashed love in Boston. True heroes running toward danger. Able strangers lifting and carrying the wounded to safety. Daddies protecting their babies.
Those images were still fresh Wednesday night, when tiny West, Texas, was devastated by an earth- shattering explosion at a fertilizer plant. And, once again, heroes stepped in to make sense of the chaos, to comfort the afflicted.
When people around us are suffering, we instinctively extend our love.
It’s the kind of love that we all have inside us, that we can lavish on the people around us, in the middle of crisis or in the middle of a common Friday afternoon.
We can pray for kind souls to surround those survivors and grieving families. We can donate money to relief funds. We can donate blood here, in honor of a victim there.
We can model peace for our children.
We can also seek to comfort the people who surround us, because every single one of us is in the middle of some kind of struggle.
We all benefit from kind words and unexpected grace. And at the very same time we receive such gifts, we can extend them. We’ll never, ever run out of gentle words, and we have the ability to share them with as many people as we can find.
Our world is imperfect. Bad things are going to happen. We continue to discover that our allegedly safe places aren’t guaranteed refuges from danger. A movie theater. An elementary school building. The finish line at a marathon.
No matter how many good choices you make, no matter how young or old you are, there’s no guarantee of safety from natural disaster or illness, from freak accidents or the cruel whims of damaged people.
Love will not resurrect third-grader Martin Richard, killed by the breathtaking violence of Monday’s bombs. But love can help to sustain his family and friends. Kind acts and words can soothe a tiny portion of their pain.
In the face of the kind of tragedy we can’t explain, the sort that leaves us grappling for words and grasping for answers, we can rely on the steady power of love. Love that moves us to share food, water and shelter, that pushes us out of comfort zones, that diminishes our differences, that celebrates our unity, that salves the jagged edges of sorrow.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

Carlos Arrendondo (in the hat) helps Jeff Bauman in the moments after the Boston bombings.
(Photo: Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

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